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She had a beer after school in first grade.

At that point, she already knew her favorite brand of beer and that she liked them ice cold.

First grade.

Jennifer’s struggle with alcohol began at an early age. Her family had moved around. She had been in many different schools, and she had had a hard time making friends. She put up walls. Alcohol was an escape.

It got worse as she got older. Alcohol was more accessible and the stress and pressures were more intense. In college, she was an engineering student, working 30-40 hours a week, and helping with several organizations. A few drinks no longer cut it; she would regularly get drunk to escape the pressure.

She was stressed out.

She couldn’t wind down or sleep without alcohol or chemicals. But since her friends drank, too, it was easy to disguise just how serious her situation had become.

Despite all of the drinking, Jennifer managed to graduate with her Master’s degree. Then, she got an amazing job offer that took her across the country and away from family, friends, and all supervision.

“After my first day of work, I stopped by the store and picked up a three-liter box of wine,” Jennifer recalls. “I showed up on the second day of work completely hungover.”

The sad part is that no one seemed to notice. Since she thought she could still function normally, Jennifer started showing up to work hungover every day.

“I was still getting promotions and raises at work and managing people,” she says. “Everything seemed okay, but I started to realize that I couldn’t control my need for alcohol; I couldn’t stop drinking.”

Her addiction was controlling her.

Jennifer confided in a coworker, who helped her get involved in some secular programs. She started going to counseling. She started a 12-step program. They were successful in that they got her sober.

But she was miserable.

She thought about alcohol constantly.

Her performance at work began to suffer.

If this is the life of a sober person, I don’t want it, she thought.

“Then, one day at the 12-step program, I asked some people that had been sober for years how they handled the cravings. They looked at me surprised and told me that the cravings don’t EVER go away—that I would just have to learn to live with them.”

Learn to live with the cravings.

It was like a prison sentence.

“At that point, my world ended,” she says. “I knew I wasn’t strong enough to handle sobriety. I didn’t know where to turn; my situation seemed hopeless.”

Jennifer needed freedom, not coping mechanisms.

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